Thursday, December 18, 2014

EGYPT: CHRISTIAN CONVERT FACING MALTREATMENT IN PRISON

a Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) press release

Christian Solidarity Worldwide has received confirmed reports that Bishoy Armia Boulous, an Egyptian convert to Christianity who is currently serving a prison sentence, is being mistreated in prison.

Bishoy Armia Boulous, formerly known as Mohammed Hegazy, is being held in Tora Prison, Cairo. His lawyer has informed CSW that Mr Boulous is being held in solitary confinement in a cell designated for those awaiting capital punishment. Prison staff are abusing him verbally on account of his religion and are also abusing him physically; including breaking his glasses and making him walk barefoot to hearings in Minya Misdemeanour Court. There are unconfirmed reports that Mr Boulous has begun a hunger strike in protest at his detention and maltreatment.

After originally being imprisoned in December 2013 on allegations of  'sectarian strife', Mr Boulous was released then re-arrested on the same day in July 2014. He was working as a correspondent for El-Tarek TV, a Christian TV channel, when he was arrested and his camera was confiscated. The arrest document from the Head of the Intelligence Police in Minya Province stated: 'It came to our knowledge that a convert from Islam is photographing the demonstrations.' Mr Boulous' solicitor asserts that in reality these charges were precipitated by his client's attempt in 2007 to change his religious designation in his national ID card.

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, 'We continue to have serious concerns about the charges brought against Bishoy Armia Boulous, as well as the unacceptable mistreatment he is being subjected to in prison. Mr Boulous was merely doing his job as a camera man when he was arrested. Moreover, the charge levelled against him lacks substance, adding credence to assertions that he is being mistreated because of his earlier attempts to seek official recognition of his conversion. The new Egyptian constitution states in Article 64 that freedom of belief is absolute, and in Article 9 the State undertakes to ensure equal opportunity for all citizens without discrimination. We call on the Egyptian Ministry of Justice to urgently investigate the mental and physical abuse Mr Boulous is receiving in prison, to adhere to the constitution by dropping any charge he faces in connection with his religious status or conversion, and to release him.'

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email kiri@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

prayer diary Thursday 18 Dec 2014 (day of discipline and self-denial)

All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son.' 
Matthew 1. 22-23

Reflection:
God chose as his Mother not a Queen, or a person of wealth and power, but a woman of great holiness, a woman obedient to God's will. We also must strive to be holy if we would welcome the Christ-child into our hearts at this time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

prayer diary Wednesday 17 Dec 2014 (day of discipline and self-denial)

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah,fourteen generations. 
 Matthew 1.17

Reflection
Do your eyes glaze over when you hear the genealogies of Jesus in the Gospels read? You're probably not alone! But these accounts are important, for they stress the continuity of the Old Testament with the New and how the promises made by God to his Chosen People were fulfilled in Christ.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

haiku: by my window

by my window two starlings, 
    drinking
        from the gutter

prayer diary Tuesday 16 Dec 2014 (day of discipline and self-denial)

“Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went ... the second ... answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ 
Matthew 21.28-31

Reflection:
Any willfulness from the early part of your life matters not at all in the face of later obedience to God's will. It is never too late to change your ways.

Monday, December 15, 2014

happy birthday, mum

Today would have been my mother's 80th birthday. She was the most unsentimental of women, so there probably wouldn't have been a huge 'do.' She thought cards were a 'gimmick' and didn't think much of them - although she did appreciate a nice hand made one (appreciate in the sense it didn't go straight into the bin and be displayed on the mantelpiece for a few days); she had no time for gifts of stuff she didn't want or need; and eating out in restaurants was a 'waste of money' - a home cooked meal was far better at a fraction of the cost, she always said. 

So today would probably have involved my wife and I badgering the children into producing some cards and driving the two-and-a-half hours to visit her in the nursing home with presents of thick socks and maybe a new cardigan (perhaps even some of the thick flannel nightgowns she liked). Jacob (12) has become quite good at baking cakes - he made the one for his brother's recent 18th birthday - so we could have got him to make one and stuck a few candles on it and sung (badly) happy birthday in the day room and then shared the cake with some of the staff and some of the other residents (checking carefully first that their swallow was ok and they weren't allergic to anything). Mum would have smiled at first to see her increasingly large grandsons, but after a few minutes she would have yawned and said she was getting tired and suggested that we should be on our way as we had a long drive home. I'd have protested that we'd only just got there. She'd have said no one forced us to come. And grumbling I'd have packed everyone back into the car, muttering sotto voce to the wife how disappointment it all was. 

How I wish it was happening today. Happy birthday, mum.

prayer diary Monday 15 Dec 2014 (day of discipline and self-denial)

When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ 
Matthew 21.23

Reflection:
There are always those who want to challenge the authority of Christ and his teachings. Don't worry about what they think; consider instead what it is that you believe - and why.